Week 24: Construction Update
Now that our contractor Partner 1, Binod Arya has returned to Goa and we convened a big meeting on-site with the entire team. The idea was to get the construction schedule back on track and develop a new plan for the monsoon that allows us to execute the next tasks in an efficient manner. It was decided that in the main house, the contractor will work on the wood and tile roofs and the internal partition walls next. Then move on to the internal door frames and then the doors for the main openings in the living room followed by the bedrooms.
What would be the central courtyard in front of the main living room
We also addressed the material shortfall issue. The progress of our pavilion block had suffered severely due to the lack of supply of laterite stone. We dealt with the issue by switching to the use of regular brick to complete the walls of the staff quarters so we can move forward with this block. The next step here would then be to install the roof and then put up the steel structure for the pavilion above.
The pool and deck and beyond
Next, with all the woodwork ahead of us, we addressed the wood issue head-on. We had decided very early on to use as much reclaimed wood as we can in the project. Using reclaimed wood has obvious advantages. One is that we will reuse old wood and not cut new trees for our project. Secondly old wood is actually very well seasoned that reduces the well known problems of wood expanding and contracting with moisture that lead to jamming doors, wood splitting, bending and warping. In my initial discussion on the issue with my contractor, he explained to me that buying old reclaimed wood can cost me more or less the same as new wood and hence it is better for us to use the new wood as I guess for most people new is automatically always better. He went on to give me the example of another project that he is building and explained that ‘Madam - you see this project, we have cut an entire jungle for it’. This was the perfect starting point for my rhetoric on why using reclaiming old wood was important and why we must use it in our project. Contractors actually prefer working with new wood as it is softer and easy to work with. Old wood in comparison has hardened; require meticulous planning for reuse and need to be prepared for new use by shaving off the skin and removing any spoilt sections and nails and other aberrations. But our contractors are very admirable and know their craft well. They are open to and good at implementing new ideas. After a short discussion, they are on-board with the plan.
Mainly in the project, we are using two types of wood – local timber (Matti, Jack) and Burma Teak. We have found vendors that deal with reclaimed Teak in Mumbai. For local timber on the other hand, there is no organized trade that exists in the state. So we resorted to some innovative sourcing techniques. As a result we have been combing through all types of old wood waiting to be found and reused, from packing wood, to doors and windows to wood beams and rafters from old roofs. We are mostly interested in the later. After short listing a few, my architect and I have been cris-crossing the state to look at available wood to judge its quality and reusability. The main criteria is to make sure that the reclaimed wood in not bent, does not have significant termite damage and has not become brittle over time. We think we have found 3-4 sources of good supply. In the next couple of weeks, we will carefully study our requirements vs. the wood that is available and purchase the necessary quantities. More updates on this will follow.